Taco Bell fires back at suit over beef in its tacos

By Gregory Karp
Posted Jan. 27 at 3:38 p.m.

Part of Taco Bell's ad in major U.S. newspapers.

The beef about Taco Bell beef is heating up. The fast-food chain took out ads in several U.S. newspapers to lash out at a law firm that alleges Taco Bell doesn’t use much beef in its ground beef taco filling.

“The lawsuit is bogus and filled with completely inaccurate facts,” says a statement attributed to Greg Creed, president and chief concept officer of Taco Bell Corp. He said the beef is “just like the quality beef you would buy in a supermarket and prepare in your home.”

Last week an Alabama law firm sued Taco Bell for using the word “beef,” meaning the flesh of cattle, when referring to its taco filling.

A test on Taco Bell’s “seasoned beef” showed only 35 percent of the mix was solid, said class-action lawyer W. Daniel “Dee” Miles III of the Montgomery, Ala., law firm Beasley Allen, which instigated the suit. Overall, just 15 percent of the taco filling was identified as protein. Considering that the many other additives likely contributed protein, the actual meat content of the mix was surely even less than 15 percent, Miles surmised.

Not so, says Taco Bell.

“Our seasoned beef recipe contains 88 percent quality USDA-inspected beef and 12 percent seasonings, spices, water and other ingredients that provide taste, texture and moisture. The lawyers got their facts wrong,” Creed said in the statement.

The law firm says it won’t try the case in the press.

“The lawsuit does not allege a percentage of beef as a result of a test, only that the products are mislabeled as ‘beef’ or ’seasoned ground beef,’ despite Taco Bell acknowledging internally that their product is ‘taco meat filling,’ ” said Miles, the lawyer. “Taco Bell has not, and refuses to say what percentage of actual beef is contained in their ‘taco meat filling.’ The government says at a minimum that ‘taco meat filling’ must be at least 40 percent fresh meat. That 88 percent figure Taco Bell released is before they add the 21 ingredients, including binders, fillers and extenders, on their ‘taco meat filling’ box. It’s ‘taco meat filling’ not ’seasoned ground beef’ or ’seasoned beef.’ ”

Taco Bell says it uses no “extenders” to add volume to the mixture.

Taco Bell released the contents of its season beef as 88 percent beef, 3 to 5 percent water for moisture, 3 to 5 percent spices and 3 to 5 percent oats, starch, sugar, yeast, citric acid and other ingredients “that contribute to the quality of our product.”

“We take this attack on our quality very seriously and plan to take legal action against them for making false statements about our products. There is no basis in fact or reality for this suit, and we will vigorously defend the quality of our products from frivolous and misleading claims such as this.”

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  1. Robert Lehmann Jan. 27 at 4:47 pm

    The more I read about fast food, the happier I am that I no longer eat the garbage. It is my understanding that the recipes are actually prepared by chemists, and not cooks, chef’s or nutritionalists!

  2. Sara Jan. 27 at 5:56 pm

    Who cares? It still tastes great. In this economy, it’s about all I can afford.

  3. classA Jan. 27 at 10:37 pm

    if you say it tastes great. youll live to a ripe old age of 25 or 26. a woman should be an expert in the kitchen. she definately cant drive.

  4. vicki Jan. 28 at 3:37 a.m.

    I work for a taco bell and i can say theres nothing wrong with our ground beef. What about resterants that use prossed chicken for chicken patties and that ok?? !:(:(

  5. Amanda Jan. 28 at 9:01 a.m.

    Vicki, you need to go back to school to learn how to properly spell and type the English language. You have spelled RESTAURANTS wrong, PROCESSED wrong and your verbage…..”and that ok”??? How about this…..What about restaurants that use processed chicken for chicken patties, and that is acceptable?
    Sounds much better doesn’t it?

  6. Boy George Jan. 28 at 9:40 a.m.

    Oh Amanda, lighten up. Vicki works for Taco Bell, she’s not an English major. Although, in this economy, she might be!

  7. queen Jan. 28 at 9:53 a.m.

    Yes pease lighten up. Dont judge people by what they write. You understood right!!? This is a comment from a so call English person… I’m pretty sure Amanda eats Taco Bell too, so we need to hush! jaja

  8. John T Jan. 28 at 9:53 a.m.

    Just lawyers trying to make money off companies and consumers.
    Taco Bell should, once they prove that they are being slandered, turn around and sue the Alabama law firm of “Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles.”
    In general, the U.S. Court System has become a joke with frivolous and bogus law suits by lawyers and/or low-life scumbags trying to bilk the system and extort money from these large companies.
    The US should pass a law against this practice where if you bring a lawsuit and lose, you pay what you were suing for… This would eliminate over 90% of the bogus lawsuits in the system almost immediately.

  9. Beechbaby Jan. 28 at 10:06 a.m.

    Good Lord!! It’s fast food and not meant to be eaten every day. And if you don’t care for the food…then JUST DON’T EAT IT!

  10. Timian O Jan. 28 at 10:59 a.m.

    Amanda, you’re the one that should be backing off(and perhaps taking a look at your own work). First of all, it was her “grammar” which came into question, and not her “verbage”(a word you used, which is actually a name, and not a word).
    Never attempt to correct the grammatical errors of another without all the knowledge intact within yourself(i.e. “You made yourself look like an idiot”).
    Second, working in a fast food chain doesn’t mean that the person is an imbecile whatsoever. First of all, you didn’t bother to ask yourself what they do there, how much they make, and if they want to look intelligent on here(considering what they may do for Taco Bell).
    Use the intelligence that you apparently seem to possess only in your own mind. Because you didn’t show it in front of us.

  11. Taco Bell Fan Jan. 28 at 11:30 a.m.

    Why doesn’t this Alabama law firm find something better to do with their time? With all that’s going on in the world, their legal services could be much better utilized. I mean really, are they that desperate for some publicity for their law firm? Leave Taco Bell alone with your bogus claims. It is delicious food at an economical price. I absolutely love it. I hope Taco Bell really fires back at them with their own legal action. Don’t worry Taco Bell, I am one fan and customer that stands behind you!

  12. Dennis Kent Jan. 28 at 11:53 a.m.

    I’m sorry to hear that the beef is questionable, but I worry more about the need to put 1200 mg of salt in bean burritos to make us like ‘em. I couldn’t believe it, because until I ran across the report on how much salt was in all of this restaurant’s products, I had been a bean burrito hound and used every free chalupa given for 100 point games in the NBA (at Portland, at least). So fix the salt please; let us know, and I’ll be back! Nice place; friendly staff. Bad health prospects for a guy like me, though, if I indulge until you fix the salt.

  13. Dave Jan. 28 at 12:06 pm

    Vicki, I read and understood, thanks…some people get up to point out what’s wrong with the world, like that’s some kind of a challenge. Some get up to see what’s right, the minority. You need a promotion, and I’d love a coupon

  14. Phil Jan. 28 at 12:45 pm

    So if it turns out that Taco Bell does make the meat like they say they do (and like my taste buds say they do) is this Alabama law firm going to pay Taco Bell for lost revenue because of the false allegations? You know who will pay for that lawsuit? Me. To recoop their lost revenue and attorneys fees they will raise the cost of my beloved Cheesy Gordita Crunch. I love those things. !Me Gusta Taco Bell! !No me gusta los lawyers muy greedyo! (yeah, that’s not real Spanish but Taco Bell isn’t real Mexican…I still love it)

  15. Johnny Walker Jan. 28 at 12:52 pm

    Have you all overlooked the millions of people with Celiac Disease ( gluten intolerant ) who eat Taco Bell when away from home because it advertises “pure beef”, and corn taco shells. We are the big losers in t his dilema. Wheat fillers damage our intestines and related “areas”. No one seems to care about that issue…and thats huge all by itself!!!

  16. Cheryl B Jan. 28 at 1:19 pm

    Their meat has tasted spoiled for the last two or three years. It has a really weird taste to it. We’ve stopped going there.